116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Hancher Auditorium, which provided the stage for thousands of performers in its 40-year history, will soon be the star of its own show.
As workers prepare for the flood-damaged Hancher-Voxman-Clapp complex to be razed in the coming months, University of Iowa photographers and videographers are capturing the work before, during and after the demolition for an eventual documentary film about the process.
The documentation is required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which designated $200,000 for it via a Memorandum of Agreement with the university, said Rod Lehnertz, director of UI planning, design and construction. Hancher-Voxman-Clapp was significantly damaged in the 2008 flood.
When a facility is scheduled to be demolished, FEMA and the State Historic Preservation Office consult to determine any "adverse effects" that will result to historic resources, and, where possible, find ways to avoid or minimize those effects. A Memorandum of Agreement is reached, outlining required steps to offset adverse effects to historic buildings that result from FEMA-funded undertakings.
Hancher Auditorium, opened in 1972, was deemed historically significant because it was designed by noted architect Max Abramovitz and because of events that occurred there during its history, Lehnertz said. The feature-length documentary will chronicle the demolition process but also look at the architecture of UI buildings in the Iowa River basin, including others designed by Abramovitz, Lehnertz said.
"It's worthwhile. It's a collection of and a keeping of history, and that's important," he said. "Max Abramovitz on a world-wide basis is an important architect. Losing that facility, though we still have works of his on our campus, losing that major facility isn't just a loss to us and the programs, it's a historic loss on an architectural perspective."
That same FEMA assessment process is what resulted in the decision to keep the original 1936 portion of the Art Building complex, while the rest of the flood-damaged structure will be razed this fall. The 1936 portion was deemed historic.
A new Art Building will be constructed up the hill to the northwest, on River Street, and another FEMA Memorandum of Agreement covers a structure that will be razed to make way for that facility. A former medical fraternity at 109 River St. that in recent years was used for graduate painting studios will be demolished. Due to the age of 109 River St., FEMA required the UI to work with the Salvage Barn, an architectural salvage warehouse, to recycle or reuse as much of that building as possible, Lehnertz said.
In a typical demolition, the reuse or recycling of materials is left up to the contractor on the project, Lehnertz said. In the case of 109 River St., the Salvage Barn went through and essentially "picked the building clean" before demolition, he said, which is what FEMA specified. The contractor will save the clay roof tiles during the demolition to give to the Salvage Barn, which also will take the trees torn down on the site.
After the demolition, the UI and the Salvage Barn, in coordination with FEMA, will host a symposium on the recycling of materials from demolished projects, Lehnertz said.
Materials such as metal and concrete from the Hancher demolition also will be reused and recycled by the contractor, Lehnertz said, though that's not specified in the FEMA memorandum for that structure. Asbestos abatement work is happening inside Hancher, and visible demolition work likely will start in the late summer, he said.